Reuters: Kallas government facing serious election test Sunday

EKRE leader Martin Helme and Reform Party leader, and prime minister, Kaja Kallas.
EKRE leader Martin Helme and Reform Party leader, and prime minister, Kaja Kallas. Source: Priit Mürk

The pro-Kyiv, Reform-led Estonian government faces an election challenge from the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) amid the cost of living crisis, newswire Reuters says.

Both Kaja Kallas and Martin Helme talked to Reuters, and both expressed hope they would lead the next coalition government after Sunday's election (in effect validating a self-fulfilling prophecy that both have helped along in the domestic media, namely that the election comes down to a two-horse race between Reform and EKRE and their leaders-ed.).

Reuters called Estonia's leadership: "One of Europe's most staunchly pro-Ukrainian governments", one which is jeopardized by "a far-right party (ie. EKRE-ed.) that is seeking to capitalize on dissatisfaction with the rising cost of living," and quoting Kallas as saying voters face at the ballot box a choice between "two totally different ways for Estonia."

"We are supporting the open, friendly, European-minded, smart country, I would say, and EKRE is looking more into itself, whereby we should stick to our own interest, not to help Ukraine," Kallas added, conceding that growing support for Helme's party of late is "maybe due to, you know, tough times."

The latter told Reuters his supporters, who mostly hail from rural regions, the article says, trust his party to handle the cost of living crisis, as well as to curb immigration, and take care of their security in the face of "a possible war with Russia," while a vow to fight the green transition, slash energy bills and curb further immigration from Ukraine despite supporting that country in its struggle with Russia, are policies which have proven popular with some sectors of the electorate, Reuters says.

"People are really scared about the future, and the main parties, especially the governing parties, have no real answers," Helme told Retuers, adding that: "This has put an enormous strain on our budgets, our accommodation, our education system, our medical system, but also our overall cultural picture."

The piece also reports on Ida-Viru County, and makes the claim that EKRE has made "steady gains" there since the 2019 election "partly because of fears about the decline of the jobs in the oil shale industry."

The original Reuters piece is here.

A recent Kantar Emor poll put EKRE on a par with Reform and Eesti 200 in Estonia's easternmost county; EKRE did not significantly convert efforts, mainly through the pursuit of socially conservative policy pledges rather than by using economic fears, to capitalize on a fall in support for Center in one of its traditional heartlands, into votes at the October 2021 local elections.

By candidate, at least according to one recent survey, EKRE's most-supported candidate, former rural affairs minister Arvo Aller, lies in third place, behind MEP Yana Toom (Center) and Maksim Iljin (Eesti 200), while independent candidate and former Center member Mihhail Stalnuhhin is forecast to perform well on polling day also.

Ultimately, in Ida-Viru County, much will depend on voter turnout, particularly for the Center Party, as some experts have pointed out.

Seldom far from the international media limelight, Prime Minister Kallas has been the subject of at least three more recent pieces by major international publications: One from Politico, which also earlier listed her as one of the top five most influential Europeans for this year, another on the English page of der Spiegel and, within the past few hours at the time of writing, on the Financial Times site too (the latter two pieces make no mention of Martin Helme by name).


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: Reuters

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